Posts Tagged ‘Mad Mac’s’

Right before I told you the story of the Quarter Panel Quandary, I teased you with “the Story You Have All Been Waiting For”. I understand that seven months is far too long to go without telling the story of this build.

What is going on? Are you still building it? Are you even still alive?

These are some questions you may have asked while I was out. Here are the answers, in reverse order.

YES, I am still alive. YES, I am still building the FrankenJeep. As far as “What is going on?” Well…

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Alright, I will try and keep to the point and give you a fair, yet concise, representation of the past half year in words.

Between October 11, 2016 and January 27, 2017 there were the normal activities in the garage. Tony would come over on the weekends that I was home and help me work on the FrankenJeep. Sometimes we would get lots of things accomplished, while other times… not so much; you should know by now the way things work with this project. We did get the quarter panels replaced in November, and for the most part, they look really good. In December, I got some more parts from Jerry. I got the Dana 44 front axle, and some other miscellaneous parts from him. We also got the idea to change up the rear bedsides (I will go more into this later, as I still have work to do before we get them dialed in); here are some prototype pictures of that endeavor.

In January, I took the family and met with some members of Rat Rod Addiction for a luncheon.

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The meal was good and the company was fantastic! I spoke with some guys and we swapped ideas, it was a good day in all.

That brings you up to date until the end of January, which is when things took an interesting turn. You see, I was sort of stuck in the FrankenJeep build; I still did not have a reliable truck, the engine plans for the build fell through when I found out the depth of rebuild needed to make the SBC 400 work, I only had my front axle as the axle I got for the back was only a 10 bolt rear end, and I was losing steam on all of the grinding that was still needed to finish the frame. I just did not want to do any more grinding for a while.

What does one do in such a situation? I am not sure, but I went looking for a second job and found refuge in a custom body shop by the name of Sick Customs. Jack Reigelsperger is my boss and he is a bad ass.

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No, I did not receive a bonus for plugging his name. This guy is just pure awesome on so many levels.

  1. Just look at his builds. Quality in everything he does
  2. Realize he is only in his mid 30’s
  3. He has graced the pages of many hot rod and custom car magazines
  4. He holds the patent to a fourth generation (1961-69) Lincoln Continental 4-link and air bag system
  5. He hired me on as a body tech and has taken very good care of me, teaching me the ways of custom car building

Most importantly, he cut me a killer deal on some very much needed parts for my builds.

I answered an ad on the FaceBox for someone looking for help at a custom auto shop. I contacted Jack and met with him on a Friday, I was working for him the next Monday. During our few times of lull, we would speak of the different projects we had and I told him of this one, the FrankenJeep build. He explained to me that he had the perfect drivetrain for the build, as well as a host of other goodies I needed for my other project, and that he was willing to make me a package deal. We talked logistics and came to an agreement, a deal was made.

I got a Chevy 350 (pushing almost 400hp) with a Muncie 4 speed transmission and an NP-205 transfer case; I also got a 14 bolt rearend with disc brakes, and that took care of the needed parts for this build.

The problem (depending on who you are, and how you look at it) came with the “other project” parts. You see, I was at the shop working my magic on a flip truck when I got a crazy idea to check the wheelbase of the square body Suburban sitting in the yard. It turns out that the Suburban is 131.5” long between the centers of the wheels. My J20, Hyde, has a wheelbase of 131”. This Suburban was already converted to house a 12v Cummins in it and seemed to be the perfect candidate for a body swap. It was also set up with a disc brake 14 bolt rearend and was loaded with other goodies like leather seats, executive styled center consoles, and a Grant GT Premium wooden steering wheel.

Now, do you see my problem? I practically have a turnkey body swap project to create my dream of a 12v Cummins powered Jeep J20. Oh, did I mention this diesel had not just a single, but twin turbos? Yep, we are looking at 600hp and 1400ftlbs of torque when this thing is up and running. I have been spending my weekends getting it ready for the Power Tour, in June.

…And that brings you up to the current date.

(Oh yeah, and the oilfield permanently laid me off in February, the day before I was going to go back to work.)

Head on over to check out my other build site to find out what is going on over there with the Jekyll and Hyde truck.

 

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To the point of the matter. Mac, where have you been, and what has been going on? Am I correct, these are the questions you all want the answers to? Here we go, much has gone on since October 11, 2016.

Hmm, where to start… obviously with the FrankenJeep, and more than likely right where we left off, right? Okay, I last told you the crazy story of how I met Mike Johnson and bought the Willys grille. If you remember correctly, I bought a Willys grille from a man that was there during the building of the very Jeep that gave me the idea to create the FrankenJeep and take it in its current direction. Yeah, so?!?

I also previously let you in on the little tidbit of information that my quarter panels were made of pot metal and that I needed to do something about it. Well, I did. That is right, I finally got the quarter panel situation [sort of] figured out.

I have told you in the past that even if I am not actively working on the FrankenJeep, I am almost always working on the FrankenJeep. When I am at sea, I have time on my hands. This is what often becomes of it…

Gather ‘round because it is story time! This is a story of a little grille in a small world.

There was once a Jeep build by the name of FrankenJeep. Many of the parts were already had, but there were still a few that needed to be gotten before we could start to see the machine take form. A big piece that was missing was the grille. Yes, there was the one from its previous life, but that would not suit the needs of this little Jeep, for he needed something with a point to it, unlike the long beginning of this story…

Get on with it, will you?!

Okay, okay… if you remember, I gave you that spoiler alert and told you there would be a plot twist; there was a mock up picture of the FrankenJeep that I put up.

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Actually, let us go back even further, back to the beginning. Remember when I told you my initial plans for the Jeep; the ones that abandoned making a right hand drive CJ5 clone, and instead turning it into a flat rod? I showed you some pictures of two similar, yet very different flat rod builds – the red Jeep made in Texas, and the green Jeep made in Arizona.

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If you remember correctly, I explained to you that this O.D. Green Army Jeep gave me a lot of ideas, and it was that very Jeep that made up my mind to go the way of the flat rod. At the time, I failed to tell you the name of the builder. It was Randy Ellis; his shop, Randy Ellis Designs (R.E.D. Inc.), in Phoenix built the Army themed flat rod you saw on these pages and many other pages around the internet. Now, I did not maliciously try to discredit Mr. Ellis, or even purposefully fail to give him credit, I was just not as diligent back then about ensuring that I shelled out the names of strangers just because they gave me an idea.

That’s nice. To the story already!

So, to the point; the grille I showed you in the mock photo? I found it on Craigslist.

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That’s it. That is the story of the grille; I bought it off a guy on Craigslist.

WHAT??!!! That is your epic story?!!

 

Haha! No, that is not the entire story. Yes, I did buy it off a guy on Craigslist. In fact, I drove more than 120 miles, round trip, to get that grille. But not even that is the best part of the story.

I drove all the out to West Glendale, about 65 miles away, to get that grille from a guy named Mike Johnson. (You see Mike? I told you your time would come!) I could tell pretty quickly that Mike was a like-minded gearhead, and that he would probably have some good stories to tell me. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Mike got me talking about the Jeeps and the different ideas that I had. Then he led me on a little journey to the side of the house and he opened up his back gate to show me a Jeep he had built when he was just thirteen. He had kept it, and kept it running for over forty years! In its own right, the Jeep was a rat rod. You all know I hate the term, but it was built in the truest form of the word. Mike used whatever he could source to make it work, even using scrap steel to fabricate parts!

After I saw that, I knew we were akin of twisted minds, so I started giving him better information about the FrankenJeep build, showing him pictures and explaining what I started with, what I had already done, and what my plans were for it. I went in to detail about the build and asked him if he knew about Randy Ellis and the Army flat rod.

“Yeah, I know Randy. I was with him when he built that.”

 

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It turned out that I drove 65 miles to buy a Jeep grille from a guy… to use in a build in which I got the idea from a similar Jeep… that this very guy helped build.

…literally. As it turns out, my quarter panels are made of pot metal. For those of you that may not know why this is such a big deal – pot metal is the left over non-ferrous metal that was thrown into one pot and melted down into a single molten liquid that was easier and cheaper to cast. Again, why is that such a big deal? It is most often lacking iron, meaning I cannot weld it. Okay, I cannot easily weld it with the tools that I have. Pot metal has a lower melting point than a more pure iron, therefore it just blows away when I try and heat it to glue metal together with.

So Mac, “What are you going to do now that you cannot weld your top on?”

Ah, I said my quarter panels were pot metal. The structural framing (i.e. the roof, the A-pillar, the skeletal beams and the firewall) are all steel. They are all capable of being welded. This means that I can make the chop structurally sound, I just need to figure out what to do with the quarter panels. And I think I have an idea for that. Again, I need to make sure I can do it before I say too much more, but I can say this much – it will definitely work with the look of something named FrankenJeep.

You want pictures, don’t you? As I am always one to oblige when I can… for your enjoyment.

Before – A stripped Kenworth cab at stock height.20160822_1104281

You can see here that we have marked out the 4″ we want to cut out.20160827_1555161

The backside has been lined out.20160827_1555101

And the right side A-pillar is ready to go.20160827_1555401

Tony making some cuts. You can see we carefully used a cutting wheel to chop this cab.20160828_1834001

The cutting portion is done, we have cleaned up the lines and positioned the roof.20160930_1524571

You can see the front end did not line up; there will be some fixing to do!20160930_1524411

Probably the best example of how far off it got with only a 4″ chop.20160930_1524331

But, I was able to bring it back…

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and make it look good too!

This is only structural welding, but the chop is sound. This is where it will reside.20160930_2053041

In all, I am extremely happy with the results of my very first chop. I am sure that some people out there would have found it especially painful to watch me perform this surgical magic due to my anal retentiveness, but it was just me and my welder. There was no one there to bother me, and I was able to get out all of the irksome CDO tendencies that drive other people nuts. I worked through them, and I believe the final product paid off.

(“CDO”, for those of you that do not know, is much like “OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder]” except the letters are put in their proper sequence. My obsessive compulsiveness does sometimes get the better of me, but this time I think it worked out on my behalf!)

[Editor’s Note: I must admit that I came back and edited this post as to better convey the story. My apologies to any of you that think I should have gotten it right the first time.]

Just as it states up there, in the title, we were finally able to chop the top on the FrankenJeep!

As you can see, the chop itself went very well.

Sans Tailgate20160828_224916[1]

With Tailgate20160828_225613[1]

(And no, that tailgate was not cut crooked. Due to a mixture of MTV photo angles and the crooked blue sticker striping, it only appears like is was cut wrong.)

Got some more work done on Frank. Not as much as I had anticipated, but we made very good headway, considering we did not get started until almost 14:00.

I really wanted to chop the cab today. I got the electricity fixed and was looking forward to testing it all out. Daniel came over and helped me out with my welder regulator issue, and we went to fire it all up when we found I had no gas.

You see, we were not able to fix the regulator gauge, so we just plugged that port. That happened to be my bottle pressure gauge, so I was unaware that I had no gas in the bottle. Oh well, we did mark out the cuts to perform the 4″ chop, and as soon as I have a welder available again, we are ready to start cutting.

In other parts of the build I did, however, make some forward progress! (Opposed to backward progress? But I digress…)

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I had to notch the wheel wells for the new fuel tank that Luke gave me. He believes it to be a 30 gallon tank; the thing is massive! (50 bonus points to the person that can correctly tell me what that fuel cell came from! [And no, “Luke’s house” is not the answer I am looking for here.]) You can see there is no room back there for the window I had planned, so I made another use of the second DJ-5 barn door I had sitting around the garage.

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I got started on the tailgate for this thing! In order for the tailgate to be finished, I still need to shave the hole leftover from the latch on the barn door, and then cap the top. Those are more things I need a welder for, but it is otherwise coming together nicely. I am still in the process of figuring out if I want it to be a functional tailgate and drop down, or if I am just going to weld it there. Even if it is “functional”, it is still useless as I only have room for batteries and an air tank back there. Nonetheless, I think things are working out pretty well for Ol’ Frank.